The Tools Artists Use

Alice Pattullo

Posted on May 11, 2009 | Comments

Alice Pattullo is an illustration student currently studying at Brighton University.


What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

Brush, or nib pen and india ink. I tend to go through phases of what I like to draw with but this one has lasted for quite a while..!

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

Definitely don't have a wide collection of materials as a student! I use the same pot of ink until it has completely dried out, and I'm particularly fond of an old battered paintbrush with about one strand of hair left in it!

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

N/A, although I do quite like using Rotring pens every now and again. They are nice and inky.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

I often work in just black and white but if I'm going to use colour I almost always introduce colour into my work through screenprint. I find it really hard to visualise things unless I'm going to screenprint, I think sometimes I get a bit reliant on being able to screenprint because I can't always! Otherwise I'll paint with a combination of inks, gouache, coloured pencils and acrylics.. I find it hard to work with just one of them!


If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

Favourite paints..I love really cheap black acrylic from WHSmith, but the rest of my paints are Reeves or Daler-Rowney gouache and Daler-Rowney acrylics, I wouldn't have said they're my favourites they are just what I have!

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

I'm sure everyone has said this but I love Moleskines. Although I prefer just to write and doodle in them than actually properly work in them. Most of my drawings and screenprints I just do onto sheets of cartridge paper.

I like the idea of having lovely chunky black sketchbooks but when it gets round to it I always feel a bit restricted working in a sketchbook.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

I really don't like adding colour to work on Photoshop because all I can do is the paint bucket pretty much. If I could do textures etc I'm sure I would use it more. However most of my drawings I do on loose sheets of paper, which I scan in then create layouts and compositions on Photoshop which I usually then print out and screenprint.


Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

I once saw a man drawing in Paris with a really chunky propelling pencil and lusted after one for years, but could never find one. When I eventually did I didn't actually like it...bit of a waste of time really!

Do you have anything you use out of the ordinary for making your art?

Not really. I sometimes do collage with old scraps of paper and collected vintage ephemera although these don't seem out of the ordinary to me! I sometimes introduce textiles and stitch into my work but at the moment I'm pretty focused on printmaking.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

Definitely prefer doing things by hand but more and more I find that I need to use the computer for certain projects. I could work purely digital, I would go insane staring at a computer screen. It always feels much more rewarding when you physically/manually produce something as you can actually see the process and mistakes made along the way, where as on the computer that often gets lost, deleted or left behind.


I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

I think as an illustrator its pretty much vital to have a website or at least have an online portfolio of your work because illustrators often get commissioned work through art directors trawling the internet to find new talent, or simply going through links on websites, chances are the links will eventually lead to you.

I look at a lot of illustrators work online and on design blogs etc which I find inspiration from, but its not quite the same as flicking through a book is it?!

Also when doing illustrations you often need obscure images to draw from, and google and flickr are lifesavers in those situations, although again I would much prefer to draw from observation or my own photographs and books.

Thanks Alice!

You can find Alice Pattullo online at her portfolio website, on her personal weblog, and on the group weblog Illustrator's Elbow.

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